Septorhinoplasty Procedure

Septorhinoplasty (SEP-toe-rye-no-plas-tee) is a surgery used to treat acquired and congenital problems that affect the appearance and function of your child’s nose.  Patients with trouble breathing through the nose, nasal deviation (crooked nose) due to trauma or congenital anomalies, and other nasal deformities can all be treated by septorhinoplasty. During this procedure, your surgeon can open your child’s nasal airway and adjust the shape of their nose. Obstructed or blocked breathing often is caused by a deviated (DEE-vee-a-ted) septum. This is when your nasal septum, the thin wall that separates the right and left sides of your nose, is off center or moved to one side.

At UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, our surgeons help dozens of children through septorhinoplasty surgeries each year. We are trained in complex craniofacial reconstruction, functional airway surgery, and nasal aesthetics.

At UPMC Children’s, we believe parents and guardians can contribute to the success of this surgery and invite you to participate. The following information can help you learn about the surgery and how you can help.

Why Choose UPMC Children’s for Your Child’s Septorhinoplasty?  

UPMC Children’s is the region’s pediatric referral facility and western Pennsylvania's only Level-1 Pediatric Trauma Center. We are equipped to deal with major airway obstruction and surgeries required due to post-traumatic nasal deformities and post-traumatic airway obstruction. Whether your child’s situation is severe or straightforward, a congenital impairment, or the result of an injury or trauma, we take care of the whole spectrum, applying our years of expertise, knowledge, and experience to help your child — and every single patient we treat.

Fast Facts About Septorhinoplasty

  • Septorhinoplasty is surgery to is used to improve the function of the nose (breathing) and adjust the shape of the nose it is comprised of two proceedures:
    • Septoplasty (SEP-toe-plas-tee) straightens the bone and cartilage in your child’s nose to let them breathe more easily.
    • Rhinoplasty (RYE-no-plas-tee) straightens and reshapes how your child’s nose looks and helps with breathing and appearance.
  • This surgery is typically done sometime after the early teen years. Age 14 and older is a common age but this can change depending on the seriousness of your child’s health. We usually do surgery on children once their nose has stopped growing so that we don’t restrict growth.
  • If your child is younger and has had significant trauma to their nose or is having severe difficulty breathing, they may need septoplasty. We would only do this in critical cases because we don’t want to affect the growth of your child’s nose.
  • Your child will be given medicines to prevent pain during their surgery. The medicine your child is given will be based on what the anesthesiologist (AN-es-theez-e-ol-o-gist) decides is best for your child.
  • This surgery usually takes between 3 to 5 hours.
  • Most septorhinoplasty procedures are done as same-day surgery, which means your child will come into the hospital and go home the same day.
  • General recovery time (before your child is back to normal) is around 6 to 8 weeks. This timeframe depends on how complex the surgery is. Usually, the first week or two are the most challenging.

Home Preparation

One business day before your child’s surgery, you’ll receive a phone call from a same day surgery nurse between the hours of 1 and 9 p.m. (Nurses do not make these calls on weekends or holidays.) The nurse will give you specific eating and drinking instructions for your child based on their age.

The Surgery

Your child’s septorhinoplasty will be done at the Same Day Surgery Center at Children’s Hospital in Lawrenceville.

When you have checked in, you and your child will be called to an examination room where your child’s health history will be taken and vital signs will be checked. You’ll meet with one of the doctors, including a doctor from anesthesia, on your child’s surgical team to go over the surgery. They will answer any last-minute questions you might have.

When it is time for your child to go the operating room, you’ll be asked to wait in the surgical family waiting area.

A Parent’s/Guardian’s Role

The most important role of a parent or guardian is to help your child stay calm and relaxed before the surgery. The best way to do that is to stay calm yourself.

During the surgery, at least one parent or guardian should remain in the surgical family waiting area at all times in case the family needs to be reached.

While Asleep

While your child is asleep, their heart rate, blood pressure, temperature and blood oxygen level will be checked continuously. When the surgery is over, the medicines will be stopped and your child will begin to wake up.

Waking Up

When your child is moved to the recovery room, you’ll be called so that you can be there as they wake up. You and your child will stay in the recovery room to be watched over until they are alert and drinking well.

Going Home

Your child will stay in the hospital until they are drinking well and urinating normally. Your child will likely go home with an antibiotic and oral pain medicine to help them heal and be more comfortable.

Follow Up

You’ll be given your child’s follow-up plan before you leave the hospital. This will tell you when to schedule your child’s follow-up appointment.

Helpful Tips

  • Swelling is normal after this surgery.
  • Use a soft gauze pad as a “drip pad.”
  • Please remind your child to avoid blowing their nose.

At-Home Care

You’ll be given information about how to help your child when you get home. This will include any medicines to give your child and how to care for their nose as it heals. Most likely, you won’t have to change your child’s regular diet after surgery. Your child might feel sick to their stomach (nauseated) right after surgery, though. It may help to give your child mild and bland foods for the first day or two.

Your child may have internal and external splints as well as sutures in their nose. Your doctor will explain how to care for these and when to return for their removal.

It’s important that your child doesn’t do anything that could potentially injure their nose, like lifting heavy things, climbing, and energetic activity like gym and sports.

If you have ANY concerns, we are always happy to talk with you.

Special Needs

If your child has any special needs or health issues you feel the doctor needs to know about, or if you have any questions, please call 412-692-8650 before the surgery and ask to speak with the nurse practitioner. It is important to notify us in advance about any special needs your child might have.

If is after hours, call the Children’s operator at 412-692-5325 and ask to page the doctor who is on-call for your child’s procedure.

Contact Us

To schedule an appointment with the Division of Pediatric Plastic Surgery, call 412-692-8650. Online scheduling is also available for both in-person and video visits.